Violinist calls for tax changes to favour supporting the arts

Violinist calls for tax changes to favour supporting the arts
Photo: DPA
One of Germany’s best-known classical violinists, Anne-Sophie Mutter, has called for the country's tax system to be changed to encourage private donations to cultural causes.

“The system must urgently be reformed in order not to stand in the way of the cultural scene,” she said.

“It is not as if no-one in Germany is willing to get involved. The millions of volunteers with their socially-useful work prove that,” she said.

“But our tax system is painfully in the way. And that must urgently be changed because we are clearly moving to a future in which culture without private, strong private engagement, will be on a very wobbly foundation.”

Speaking from New York, where Mutter has been artist in residence, she said the American orchestras managed with practically no state funding.

“There is a tradition of cultural sponsorship by private patrons, but it is connected with a tax system which does not punish willingness to give, rather rewards it. Doing good is supported,” she said.

The German state had a duty to support culture and art, she said. “We have a centuries-old tradition of great composers and writers. That carries a responsibility.”

The support of cultural activity had a political but above all, a social component, she said. “Music is not the whipped cream on top of a spoiled society, but a basic need of people. It is a basic need for a small child to be rocked in safety to a song. And the elementary need to express oneself in art, even passively, is an enormous enrichment.”

“Life cannot only be about possessions. We exist also with the memories of wonderful moments. And not only moments between people are important, also a fantastic group experience such as in a church during a Bach Passion, in a jazz concert or in the Philharmonie in Berlin.”

She said the joint experience of thousands of people feeling emotions at the same time was important. “It binds, and that helps. Benefit concerts are not only to collect money. It is also about the experience, the being together, the helping and the community. This is great in sport but also in music. And I find it is even better in music.”


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